Monday, July 20, 2009

Platitudes

We evolved from a stream of grunts to a highly sophisticated speech in many languages and dialects. Bully for us.

So why do I get the feeling that reverse evolution has taken hold pretty strongly? My favorite example is using "no problem" after being thanked. I do this all the time, but when did "you're welcome" or even "you are very welcome" go out of fashion? Why the non-statement "no problem?"

Or how about "It's all good" ... or one of my favorites (and I use this one all the time too) "it is what is is" ...

Well, these are apparently called "thought-terminating clichés" ...

"That's a Good Thing."
"That’s a no-brainer."
"What goes around comes around."
"Easy come, easy go."
"Whatever."
"Such is life."
"Touché!"
"I'm just sayin'" (another of my favorites)

And so on .... it's kinda sad, really ...

Whatever ... ;-)

2 comments:

Sue W said...

...well I think that's a pompous fallacy on the part of the authors of that wikipedia page. We could waste our lives and deconstruct all of them but, for example, "Whatever..." or "Forget about it" usually means "I'm not wasting any more time on you/it than I have to" or perhaps "Drop dead".
So unless cognitive dissonance is defined as polite suppression of disgust or boredom (which it isn't), I disagree.
Many of the other phrases cited are habitually used to reinforce conversational airtime sharing, i.e. taking a little airtime to show one is paying attention and is not ceding the entire resource to the current speaker.
So I could change it or at least argue on the wiki, but whatever...

BTW Here's a good one...Google "recursion"...

Kim Letkeman said...

Sue, I will be the first to admit that I was pretty lazy when I wrote that one. I love the concept of the thought terminating phrase because I think people use language that way to avoid thinking. I certainly do :-) ... but I agree that the article includes a lot of phrases that are a real stretch and completely ignores simple politeness as a reason to use some of these.